ABOUT MARY WINN

 

 I was not impressed with Picture Day.

I was not impressed with Picture Day.

I grew up in Columbia, South Carolina and Bukittinggi, Indonesia. We traveled a lot when I was in elementary school (my dad is an anthropologist who studied language and emotions, and he taught at a college in Indonesia for a few years). Sometimes all that travel was adventurous and sometimes it was lonely and frustrating.

As soon as I could read, I read all the time. It's hard to bring friends with you halfway around the world...unless those friends are books! So I promptly became friends with ALL THE BOOKS. I'd take a book up a tree, I'd read instead of doing my homework, I'd do that sneaky thing and read at night when I was supposed to be asleep. I was relentless.

So me + books = bffs. EXCEPT that I didn't think writing a book was ever anything I could do.


So I tried a lot of other things first: I studied acting and anthropology, I taught high school, I was a public radio reporter, I spent time as a bartender on a train in Alaska, I traveled with an Italian circus, and I worked as the receptionist for the cadaver lab that inspired The Mortification of Fovea Munson.

The whole time, I kept acting in plays, learning about storytelling without realizing that I was helping future me be a better writer. 

Eventually, I went back to school, and got an MFA in writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. It turned out the biggest thing for me to learn was that I didn't have to get it right on the first try. Plays have rehearsals. Books have drafts! Eureka! (For me, at least! Everybody else seems to have known this all along.)

 That one time I was the magician's assistant.

That one time I was the magician's assistant.


 That IS weird, Grandma.

That IS weird, Grandma.

Now I live in Chicago, where I write (and sometimes act in plays). I'm also lucky enough to be part of a ridiculous theater company! Barrel of Monkeys is a group of actors and teachers who work together to lead creative writing workshops in Chicago Public Schools. After those six-week-long workshops, we perform what the students wrote- for them, in their schools.

And those students? They are my favorite authors.